Bus reviews: DC2NY and Bolt Bus
Qualifications: I am a veteran bus-taker. That's what happens when you have no car and no money and friends up and down the Northeast corridor! I have previous experience (since 2003-ish) taking Vamoose ("More Bang for Your Buck - No Bull" tee hee!), Washington Deluxe, and Greyhound on this route, and experience taking Greyhound, Peter Pan, and Fung Wah between Boston and Manhattan (since 1996).
General Observations about the DC-NY bus options:
- Greyhound has the most travel times and a convenient departure location from New York.
- Greyhound is currently comparable in price to these other companies, at $38 for a round-trip ticket or $22 for a one-way ticket.1
- DC2NY only makes trip twice a day, I think--once at 9-something am and once at 4:30 pm. Bolt Bus seemed to have departures every two hours or so during the day. Greyhound has buses every hour or half hour.
I really didn't like the nausea-inducing decals on the windows of the Bolt Bus, but on the plus side, the bus was emptier, which was nice, and the WiFi worked on my Palm, which means that I can be online even without dragging out my computer. However, if those decals make me nauseous, I can't be online anyway. (It's as bad as, or worse than, trying to read on the bus.)
The upshot is that I think, in the future, I would decide between Bolt Bus and DC2NY on a per-trip basis, based on the price and timing options of individual trips and on whether I want to be online (and how thirsty I think I'll be). Greyhound only as a last resort!
The full scoop is below.
|location in NYC||Port Authority Bus terminal (42nd St. and 8th Ave.)||34th between 8th and 7th Ave.s (across the street from K-Mart)||34th and 7th Ave. (across the street from Sbarro)|
|location in DC||Greyhound bus station (annoying walk to the nearest Metro station at Union Station)||Dupont Circle||11th and G, right near the Metro Center Metro stop|
|price range between NY and DC || always $22 one way or $38 round trip using their e-fares2 |
I think you can pay $5 extra and get "priority boarding," which means that you get to pick a window seat or a seat near the front of the bus if you want to.
| always $22 one way or $40 round trip || varies from $10 to $20 per one-way ticket; no discount for round-trip purchase |
|travel time|| probably comparable; I don't remember; I think it can take up to 6 hours if it's a weekend or especially a holiday weekend || 4.5 hours (middle of the day, weekday, not holiday weekend) ||4.5 hours (middle of the day, weekday, not holiday weekend)|
|amenities||none||free bottle of water upon boarding the bus! what luxury! ||none|
|trash||one at the front if you're lucky||one near each seat|| one at the back of the bus |
|electric outlets||none||didn't see them, but think they have them||conveniently located on the back of each seat, but I noticed that the seats vibrated when the bus was in motion and I'm guessing that those of you with those boxy Apple power sources might need to bring your extra cord along, since it would probably fall right out|
|Wi-Fi||none||yes, password-protected, didn't try it||yes, not password-protected so it worked on my Wifi-enabled Palm TX! woo hoo! |
|number of seats I've gotten || usually one || two! and got a window seat near the front! however, some people definitely only had one seat, so this may not be true on future rides || two! and got a window seat in the first half of the bus! tons of empty seats throughout the bus; I think there were even entirely free two-seat units. |
|movies || sometimes || passengers vote if they want a movie, and which of two movies they want, during the second half of the trip only -- this felt very nice and democratic even though the movie I didn't want to see ended up winning by one vote || none |
|nausea considerations || sometimes they smell funny, which makes me feel sick; also, with fewer seats to choose from, you can end up stuck near the back (bathroom stink, gross) or in an otherwise nausea-inducing seat || smooth ride, was even able to read a little (with the help of Dramamine) and got a great nap! || smelled like a new bus (bad for motion sickness) and the windows near the front of the bus had those decals that made it hard to look out and definitely made me feel sicker |
|leg room || varies || the seat that I got (because I wanted one near the front of the bus) felt very cramped || the seats were spacious and I had plenty of leg room (I'm 5'8" with a lot of that height in my legs) |
|cup holders || none || on the back of every seat! you can put your water bottle right there and have it handy! also, there was a hook on the back of every seat, which was also handy || none |
|foot rests || sometimes? I don't remember. I think usually not. || yes - makes bus travel more comfortable! ||yes - makes bus travel more comfortable!|
|driver || often seem surly and rude || very sweet, pleasant, had mediocre English skills for which he apologized (how novel!), asked people not to speak on cell phones || didn't say much, a little surly when he did say something, didn't ask people to avoid cell phone calls so there were people yapping the whole time |
1. As an aside, in 1996 and 1997, after Greyhound bought out Peter Pan, or at least bought out their Boston-NYC routes, their prices went way up. I think at one point they were charging as much as $40 for a Boston to NYC bus ride! One way! The cheapest I ever remember Greyhound or Peter Pan being was $25 one way. The cheapest I ever remember Fung Wah being was $10 one way. I think it was on one of those $10 Fung Wah bus rides that the side view mirror of the bus fell off. We had to stop (it's illegal for a bus to drive without one) and wait by the side of the highway until the next Fung Wah bus came by an hour later, which all of the passengers from my bus fit onto, luckily. Those were the days!
2. If you don't know to click through there, you can pay up to $62 for a one-way ticket! You'll be at least paying $29 for a one way ride without the e-fare, whereas with it, it's $38 round trip.